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Review: Leprechaun Returns – “Sick and sticky silly fun”

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The Leprechaun franchise pulls a Halloween – releasing a new instalment that is a sequel which ignores all but the original – with Leprechaun Returns, the technically eighth (but second in the new timeline) film in the series.

Steven Kostanski (The Void) directs from a Suzanne Keilly (Ash vs. Evil Dead) script, with Taylor Spreitler (Kevin Can Wait) starring and Linden Porco (Channel Zero) as the gold-obsessed killer pixie.

I’ll level with you: I had never seen a Leprechaun movie before. I know Jennifer Aniston was in the first one, that Warwick Davis has been the wee fella up until now, and that he has been to the hood (twice?) and sent into space (once?) – but aside from that, I was brand new to the franchise.

Without a theatrical release since the second film, the latest being a made-for-TV SyFy Original isn’t a sudden comedown, nor a sign of low quality. The film’s decent budget and crew talent are on show immediately (as are the great gruesome special makeup effects ) when the Leprechaun, well, Returns by bursting out of the chest of a local.

A flashback explains that the nasty little jerk was previously defeated via a four leaf clover in the gob that melted him before being tossed down a well, but after a do-gooding sorority moves in to do up the well-adjacent house he wakes up and pops out of the guts of the previously mentioned unlucky fella, Ozzie (Mark Holton – reprising his role from the first film).

The vengeful sprite’s only motivation is gold, and to get it and his powers back he sets out on murderising the sorority sisters, as well as the two frat bros who have crashed the party. His powers are a little unclear but seem to boil down to telekinesis – which enables him to fling things at folk and drop stuff on them from height, and limericks. I was unsure whether these rhymes were supposed to be bad but they aren’t even so-bad-they’re-funny – they’re just word salad that makes no sense. The psychic-powers-assisted kills are good though, with plenty of horrific impalings and a delightfully done bisection by solar panel.

The Leprechaun himself is a suitably manky looking little monster, but as well as his painful limericks, Porco’s performance also undercuts the creature’s threat with line readings that sound like they are mostly first takes. Spreitler steps up though and carries the film with some great comedy chops and a fragile yet tough performance as a young woman afraid of potential hereditary mental illness yet unafraid to whup gnome butt when required.

Sick and sticky silly fun, Leprechaun Returns is no Halloween 2018 but it’s a serviceable sequel slash soft reboot that should ensure plenty more mayhem to come.

Leprechaun Returns is available on digital download now.

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